We are all hungry for meaning, for purpose, for the feeling that our life is worth more than the sum of its parts. ~ Seph Fontane Pennock
One of the first questions you ask as a child is “Why?” You carry that same inquiry into adulthood with the burning desire to know – Why am I here? Who am I? What am I meant to do? What is my purpose? The driving need to find your unique answers provides deeper meaning, direction and fulfillment in life.
Lack of meaning can result in suicide, depression, addiction and burnout as you struggle to satisfy the search to shape a life that matters, has purpose and makes a difference in our world.
“[…] humans flourish when they have meaning.”
Finding what is significant to you in your life doesn’t have to be huge. Although you may be inspired by long-term goals that change many lives, you don’t have to start a world charity or lead an activist protest to give purpose to your life. There doesn’t have to be one focused passion for your life to have meaning either. You can make a difference and feel fulfilled in moments and actions that come your way every day. The potential to see life’s meaning exists in every encounter and interaction you have.
Try this ->
5 Questions to Help You Find Your Life’s Meaning
Put your life on ‘pause’ and make a date with yourself. Sit quietly in your favourite space. Breathe in gently and deeply. Exhale through the mouth with an audible sigh. Let go of all tension and overwhelm.
Journal or reflect on these questions:
• What are 5 things that have happened in my life that brought me joy?
• What are 5 things that have happened in my life that made me feel sad, afraid, disappointed or challenged?
• What role do I play in my life that has my unique stamp?
• What is important?
Positive experiences such as falling in love, the birth of a child, finding a new job that you love, making a decision that creates transformation for you, can bring context to what matters to you in life. Equally important are those sweet moments in a day when you come home to a pet, hold hands with a loved one, share a smile with a stranger.
Similarly, suffering and difficult events in life can offer a path to finding meaning. The loss of a loved one through death or divorce, losing a job, change (sudden or by choice), trauma, injury or illness can cause an interruption in your life that sends you into the depths of self-inquiry about what you believe and what matters to you. As difficult as these breakdown experiences might be, they can open the door to living your most authentic and truthful life.
Flow – you lose track of time as you focus completely on what you are doing
Alignment – between your authentic longings and your external actions
Joy – you feel satisfied and fulfilled
Connection – a feeling of closeness with others (family, friends, partners) that supports and makes a difference in their lives
Passion – you are inspired by a cause, a person, experience that speaks to your heart
Coherence – you trust the sense and reason in both negative and positive life events
Resilience – your personal strengths meet the challenges and obstacles to your goals
Pay attention to the obvious and the subtle life nudges that show you every day what matters most in your life. They are your guideposts to acceptance, growth, and love. They are your unique meaning and purpose.
Man’s Search for Meaning – Vicktor Frankel
The Power of Meaning – Emily Esfahani Smith